GHI Kenya


A New life, a New Hope: Beatrice and David

We met Beatrice in Nairobi’s Mathare Slum in 2010, and she shared her incredible story with us.

It was a story that sounded tragically familiar — but Beatrice gave us the chance to become a part of it and to change its ending for the better.

In 2010, our GHI Team had witnessed our system of care for mothers and babies with HIV (the HITSystem©) at work from a distance in many different cases —  but this small family was special.

We had the chance to get to know this brave woman on a personal level and to unite her story with ours.

Beatrice’s plight was all-too-familiar. Her husband contracted HIV from another woman, developed AIDS, and died just as Beatrice was turning 32 — but not before passing the virus to Beatrice.

But the story doesn’t end here — in fact, this was just its beginning: Beatrice became pregnant before her husband’s death.

When we first heard her story, we knew that without intervention, Beatrice’s baby had a 15 to 45% chance of being born HIV-positive. Fortunately, Kenya’s health system offers free HIV medications (called antiretroviral medications) to anyone who needs them —  if only they know about it and are willing and able to access them.

We knew that if we could get Beatrice on ARVs during her pregnancy, the chance of her precious baby being born with HIV could be as low as 1%. The deadly cycle could be stopped.

Beatrice’s baby, a son she named David, was born just a few months after Beatrice was diagnosed with HIV. We spent many long hours hoping and praying as we awaited David’s test results. We hoped that, for once, the odds would favor this HIV-positive widow and her defenseless newborn.

Thanks to the HITSystem’s© coordination of an amazing team on the ground, we were able to determine that David was HIV-negative within a few short weeks of his birth. We used specialized testing and care to minimize his chance of becoming infected after birth and taught Beatrice the things she needed to know to prevent David from becoming infected during infancy.

Beatrice and David were more than just another statistic. They were a mother and baby whose life-and-death battle with HIV we witnessed firsthand in 2010 — and this time, we won.

When David’s test results came back negative, we knew this was the moment we had been working for. We had broken the cycle of HIV/AIDS in the life of just one small family — and it was the start, we knew, of something much bigger.

We still see David and Beatrice today when we are back in Mathare. They fill our hearts with joy and hope for a future in which HIV/AIDS is only bad dream of past decades.

Five years later, GHI’s HITSystem© now serves over 25,000 mothers and babies across the continent of Africa.

A story of Courage and Hope

Emmy and her husband lived with their children in the South Rift Valley in Kenya. They were a lot like any other family; “Life was good,” Emmy says.

One day, Emmy’s husband became sick, and one of her children, only three years old, grew sick too. Her young child lost his battle for life soon after.

When Emmy became pregnant again shortly after her three-year-old child’s death, she was tested for HIV and learned she was positive — and she knew now that her baby had likely passed away because of AIDS.

“That is when I came to know,” Emmy says to us bravely, “that HIV is a bad disease.”

Emmy described her feelings as her life began to crumble around her at the relentless assault of HIV/AIDS. “After being diagnosed with HIV, it was very hard,” she says. “I was not seeing a life ahead of me anymore.”

Emmy tells us about how family and neighbors rejected them because of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS; how she was unable to get a job; and how she did the best she could to care for her children as the sole healthy supporter of the family.

Emmy’s husband was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS shortly after Emmy’s own diagnosis. He was put on treatment, but after bearing the weight of both the physical and emotional burden of HIV/AIDS for many years, he committed suicide.

Emmy took strength from her faith in God’s guidance and protection and agreed to start on treatment for herself in order to help prevent her unborn baby from being born HIV positive. Emmy’s health improved immediately — and her son was born HIV negative because of her brave decision to face the disease.

Emmy was placed with a group of fellow women who counseled her in coping with her situation. “That is how I came to stand up and become strong,” Emmy says.

Today, Emmy is a voice for hundreds of pregnant women who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves HIV positive, often feeling that there is little hope for them or their baby. Emmy works at the clinic where she herself received treatment, extending a hand of life-giving hope to those who doubt that life can ever go on after the HIV/AIDS diagnosis.

“Being HIV positive is not the end of life,” Emmy tells us with conviction. “You can still live — because am living,” Emmy tells her patients. “I am living, and youwill live.”

One HIV positive mother whose life Emmy has deeply impacted told us, “I felt so bad [when I was diagnosed]. I thought that it was the end of the world. But at long last, I got my counselor here, Miss Emmy. She told me of her status. She told me she was positive. And I thought to myself, all these years she’s been positive and living negatively. Her advice and counsel made me to be a bit strong. And I knew that I can live as healthy as she is.”

Emmy continues to work tirelessly to help us manage the HITSystem in a rural hospital in Kenya. She offers HIV/AIDS medications, ARVs, counseling, and hope to the vulnerable whose lives are under attack by this vicious disease.

The GHI has come alongside Emmy and countless other brave mothers, staff, and volunteers like her to empower them in uniting to stop the cycle of HIV/AIDS in its tracks.